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Farewell AJ: 5 potential opponents for The Phenomenal One’s final WWE match

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AJ Styles’ stint in WWE has been relatively short, only having been signed to the company for a little over a year and a half. In spite of his limited WWE experience, it is undeniable that the world-renowned Phenomenal One has already made an indelible mark on the company, quickly becoming one of the most over wrestlers in the company as well as a top merchandising draw.

A little known fact about the ‘Face that runs the Place’ is his desire outspoken desire to retire from in-ring action around the age of 42. Primarily due to The Phenomenal Ones’ recent WWE debut, it’s easy to forget that Styles recently turned 40 in June of this year. That leads the question to be asked: when the time comes, who will be the one to retire AJ Styles? I’ve comprised a list of 5 potential candidates who could fill the role when the occasion arises. Let’s get into it…


5. Roman Reigns

Let’s go ahead and get this one out-of-the-way. Allow me to provide an explanation before every reader turns their back on me. I’m not saying that Roman Reigns should be the one to retire AJ or that it’s the right thing to do. What I do believe is that it would make sense as something that WWE would want to do. Regardless of the overwhelmingly negative fan reaction, WWE appears to be dead set on making Reigns their guy through hell or high water. Whether they want to keep him in the direction of the “polarizing tweener” or turn him to a cold-hearted heel, being the man to retire The Undertaker and AJ Styles would be quite the feather to have in one’s cap.

4. Samoa Joe

No man in the WWE has a more expansive history with the Phenomenal One than Samoa Joe. The two men have had a litany of classics in TNA including what is considered by many to be the greatest match in the history of the company in a triple threat match along with Christopher Daniels at Unbreakable 2005. The two men have yet to face off in WWE but with the implications of the Superstar Shake Up, I don’t see this lasting forever. While I do see Joe as a fitting final opponent for AJ, he comes in at the tail end of the list only because i believe there are younger guys who could benefit from the rub of retiring AJ Styles. Someone like….

3. Pete Dunne

I wanted to include a young superstar that could benefit immensely from retiring AJ Styles and no superstar fits this bill more than The Bruiserweight, Pete Dunne. Pete Dunne is one of the fastest rising wrestling stars on the planet and clearly is on Triple H’s radar for the future as he had a strong showing in the U.K. Classic and the primary storyline was centered around Dunne’s cockiness and complete refusal to abide by any authority figures demands. Dunne has proven in the United Kingdom promotion known as Progress that he is the master of getting legitimate heel heat with the fans and the heat that Dunne could garner from this would be absolutely nuclear and enough to push him into the stratosphere as the potential next top heel.

2. John Cena

The dream match that never happened… until it did. For years, wrestling fans would fantasize about how an AJ Styles/John Cena match would play out. Would “Super Cena” prevail? Would AJ Styles be able to outsmart Cena with pure wrestling ability? These questions were answered in mid 2016 after Styles turned heel on Cena during an altercation with The Club. Our years of expectation were met with an amazing set of matches between the two spanning out the remainder of 2016. AJ is arguably the 1B to Cena’s 1A in terms of position in the company and would make Cena, undoubtedly The Phenomenal One’s most heated rival in WWE, a fitting contender to put AJ down.

1. Shinsuke Nakamura

The match that fans of New Japan have been blessed to see and perhaps a match more casual fans of WWE never knew they wanted.

Shinsuke Nakamura and AJ Styles have had very limited interaction since The King of Strong Style debuted on the main roster two nights after WrestleMania 33 on Smackdown. However, this doesn’t mean that the two aren’t very familiar with each other. Before debuting in WWE at the Royal Rumble 2016, AJ Styles competed for years in New Japan Pro Wrestling. Styles had a very successful stint up until his final match with the company, which happened to be with Shinsuke Nakamura. A potential match between the two was hinted at during the Money in the Bank Ladder match when the two men faced off with each other while the remaining competitors were laid out. AJ has stated that he wants to main event WrestleMania with Nakamura at some point down the line which shows the respect each man has for the other. One can only assume with time dwindling down for the Phenomenal One, it may happen sooner rather than later.

Christian is an avid wrestling fan who began watching in the summer of 2001. His passion for the business starts and ends with the history of the sport. He loves holding discussions with fellow fans about their opinions on events in wresting history spanning all promotions and time periods. He currently has plans to co-host a podcast with fellow FightBoothPW contributor Brandon Miller (@brandonpsmc). If anyone would like to reach Christian, they can email him at cwaughh16@gmail.com or his Twitter account @cdubb106

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